Tuesday, October 2, 2012

WASP June Wolfe Leckie, 44-W-10,

June Swift Leckie (June Wolfe Leckie) WASP 44-10 died Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 90 in Palm City, Florida, where she had lived for 35 years.

The following written by her son, William Tendo Leckie.

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After a brief illness, Mom died early this morning, peacefully in her sleep, beneath the Harvest Moon, one of the many songs she sang (over and over!) to us as children.

Born in Akron, Ohio, she was studying English literature and French at Ohio State University during World War II when she decided she wanted to learn to fly. After earning her wings, she applied and was accepted to a very elite group of women pilots, The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), and was among the first women to fly military aircraft for the United States. After graduating from training at Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas, on Dec. 7, 1944, June received Army Air Force orders to report to Perrin Field.  At Perrin, she was would have been assigned to fly Bt-13's, AT-6's and UC-78's.*    While at, June also became an instrument flight instructor for men returning from the front. "They were very young men with very old eyes."

First married to George Wolfe, she gave birth to my older brother, Drew, and soon hung up her scarf and goggles, and went to work in advertising and promotions at Lazarus Department store in Columbus, Ohio. Later divorced from George, "it was one of those war-time weddings," she reminisced fondly. "We loved each other, but it was never going to last," she became great friends with Roseann Leckie, guiding her through her wedding, and was thus introduced to my father, Bill. They were twin suns, Mom and Dad, and all five of us kids grew up amidst the often incomprehensible gravitational pull of two, very strong, unique people.

What a wonderful life we have all had, so very very rich. And to journey through to the end with both Dad and Mom is . . . a gift unmeasurable in its tenderness and in its mercy.

She has loved and been loved by so many, and by so many who have never known her but only that she was a woman who flew during the War. Along with us, they too elevate her to the status of hero. "But," she would laugh at the honorific, "I wasn't a hero. I was having a grand time, and doing what I loved to do." 

Not until the WASP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010 (the highest honor we bestow on civilians, for the women were not commissioned but flew as civilians) and she met the women who now fly for their country and could see in their eyes her own status as hero to them, that she began to comprehend what it is to be a hero. No one wakes up in the morning and sets out to be heroic, "you do what you have to do when you have to do it, and the rest is what history says about it."

"The happiest time of my life was raising my children in Bluefield, West Virginia." And at her request, her ashes will be scattered on East River Mountain, a mountain she looked out on every day, and from which she drew great strength and great comfort.

How wonderful is this life!

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* respectfully posted by Wings Across America, with addition from the official WASP records and photo.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you William for your heartfelt tribute to your Mother.

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  2. What a life! And what a legacy! My heartfelt sympathy to this dear family. Love, MB

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  3. How great that you told your mother's story...for her and for you!

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  4. i like her story..thanks for sharing.

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  5. I also want my ashes scattered on East River Mountain in Bluefield, WV. I grew up in Princeton, WV and have been to ERM more times than I can count. It is truly the "Almost Heaven" part of WV! Go to WVVA.com and scroll to the bottom left and click on sky cam to see a live shot of ERM. Your mom is in a great place! Thanks for sharing!! Take care, MG7-3.

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  6. I had the pleasure of knowing this woman, meeting her and her family when I was in my early teens. I cherish my memories shared with June, Bill, Jan and other family over the years. It was an honor and a pleasure. I know we gave her some grey hairs! RIP June. Give Jan a hug from me. See you on the other side someday.

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